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The Big Take

China Crushed Jack Ma, and His Fintech Rivals Are Next

Ant has lost at least $70 billion in value since its scuttled IPO, and companies from Tencent to are under pressure, too. The winners? The country’s state-backed banks.

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Illustration: Sam Island


It’s been eight months since Jack Ma, the most famous business executive China has ever produced, all but dropped from public view. Eight months and, by conservative estimates, some $70 billion.

That’s the optimistic view on how much Ma’s Ant Group Co. has plummeted in value since the outspoken billionaire openly pushed back against Beijing—and Chinese authorities promptly quashed Ant’s plans for a blockbuster initial public offering. Inside Ant, the financial-technology giant Ma spun out of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the real costs are still being tallied. Followers of “Daddy Ma,” China’s answer to Jeff Bezos, have been brought to heel by higher powers: China’s president, Xi Jinping, and his right-hand man on the economy, Liu He.